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Old 12-05-2010, 08:51 AM   #1
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Default Steelers at Ravens: Key matchups

Steelers at Ravens: Key matchups
By: Mike Bires
Beaver County Times

Saturday December 4, 2010 10:27 PM


Since replacing injured Max Starks at left tackle three weeks ago, Jonathan Scott has struggled all too often. If he struggles again tonight, that could mean trouble for Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who insists he’ll play despite a painful foot injury that will limit his mobility.

For much of the game, Scott will line up across Ravens rush linebacker Terrell Suggs. That’s a match-up that worries the Steelers because Suggs is to the Baltimore defense what James Harrison is to the Pittsburgh defense. A first-round pick in the 2003 NFL Draft, Suggs is a disruptive force who was the AFC Defensive Player of the Month in November. He’s a three-time Pro Bowl all-star who’s second on the Ravens’ all-time sack list with 65.0. He leads the Ravens this year with 7.5 sacks.

In all likelihood, Scott will need help as he tries to block Suggs. That might mean tight end Heath Miller helping on a double team at times or even a running back helping Scott by chipping away at Suggs.


Joe Flacco, the Ravens’ lanky 6-foot-6 quarterback, is 2-4 in his six starts against the Steelers. He’s 2-0 in games Ben Roethlisberger doesn’t start, but 0-4 in games when “Big Ben” plays.

However, the most telling stat when it comes to Flacco vs. the Steelers is interceptions. As a rookie in 2008 when the Steelers swept the Ravens, Flacco was intercepted five times in those three games, including three picks in the AFC Championship Game. The last of those interceptions was returned 40 yards for a touchdown by Steelers strong safety Troy Polamalu. But since then, the Ravens are 2-1 against the Steelers and in those games Flacco has only thrown two interceptions.
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In the Ravens’ last seven games, Flacco has very efficient with 13 TD passes and only two interceptions. But tonight, he must keep an eye on Polamalu, who’s playing outstanding football and leads the Steelers with four INTs.


Each of the last three games in the Steelers/Ravens rivalry was a thriller decided by three points. If that’s the case tonight, it could come down to a battle of kickers. For Pittsburgh, there’s Shaun Suisham, who was signed Nov. 16 to replace Jeff Reed (who’s now kicking for the 49ers). For Baltimore, there’s Billy Cundiff, a journeymen in the midst of his best season as a pro.

Last week, Suisham was the Steelers’ hero after making all four of his field goal attempts, including a 41-yard game-winner in a 19-16 overtime win in Buffalo. That was a huge win for the Steelers. But can Suisham deliver again if called on tonight in a game that means so much more to the Steelers? Earlier this year, the Steelers lost to the Ravens 17-14 when Reed missed FG tries of 49 and 45 yards.

Meanwhile, Cundiff has made 18 of 21 field goal tries this year. That success rate of 85.7 percent is the best of his career. He also leads the NFL with 31 touchbacks. Only 23 of his 55 kickoffs this year have been returned.
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